Review: 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i

Wednesday July 24th, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Sportiest BMW SUV, Stop/Start Override Switch Relocated
Gripes: Tilted-Down Wheel Obscures Turn Signal Lights

BMW’s most petite SUV, the X1, is available in 3 varieties: 28i front wheel drive (base price $30,650), 28i all wheel drive ($32,350) and 35i AWD ($38,450). The major difference between the 28i and 35i models lies under the hood. The 28i uses the same four cylinder engine found in the base model 3-Series sedan, a 2.0 liter, direct injected, inline 4 that depends on twin turbos to make 240hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The more expensive 35i houses a turbocharged straight 6 which ups horsepower to 300hp and torque to 300 lb.-ft. You get a standard 8-speed steptronic automatic transmission in the 28i, and a 6-speed automatic in the 35i.

We spent a week driving the AWD or “xDrive” 28i. Even though this variant checked in with a base price of $32,350, a slew of expensive options easily floated the final sales price to $45,245, well past the base price of the top line 35i. The “M Sport Line” group, for example, adds $3,000 to the sticker, but provides such niceties as a fat rimmed “M” steering wheel equipped with paddle shifts, sports suspension, raised top speed limiter, and 18 inch “M-style” alloy rims with Pirelli P7 run flat tires (225/45R18 front, 255/40R18 rear). BMW even throws in a few cosmetic touches like shadowline exterior trim, M branded entry sill plates and a substantial M-emblazoned aluminum dead pedal.

The aggressive Pirelli tires muster enough lateral gForce to give the uprated, M-calibrated springs, dampers and sway bars a real workout. During quick back road jaunts, you’ll enjoy the light and agile nature of this SUV. While ride remains firm and somewhat choppy due to the X1’s stiff M suspension and short 108.7 inch wheelbase, the tradeoff in comfort is well worth the payoff in handling. The M Sport equipped X1 does a great job of emulating a 1 or 3 Series BMW sports sedan, and because it is shorter, narrower and lighter (3,527 lbs.) than the X3 (4,112 lbs.), the X1 wins the BMW SUV sport contest hands down.

Because performance of the small displacement turbo 4 is very dependent on rpm range for thrust, you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on gear choice. If given its druthers, the X1’s steptronic gearbox will always defer to top (8th) gear when you select “D,” which means you’ll be trundling along at 1,000rpm with almost no immediate forward thrust available unless you floor the gas or downshift manually. To obviate this problem, just slide the floor stick into the manual shift gate, pop a series of downchanges with the paddles, and keep the little four banger on full boil at 3,000rpm or so. If you do decide to take the slacker’s route to easy driving, you can let the steptronic select top gear and expect to average 26 MPG in mixed driving cycles.

Despite the fact that this is an entry level BMW, there is no evidence of penuriousness in the interior. Lovely, faintly cross-hatched matte aluminum trim graces the dash, door panels and center console, while pebbled and grippy “Nevada” leather covers the ultra comfortable M front seats. The only instance where you might feel short changed is the inaccessible rearward positioning of the center console bin, and the fact that its interior is mostly occupied by a phone platform. The rear seats slouch just enough to make extended travel for adults reasonable, with the caveat that headroom is extremely limited for ingress and egress.

The X1 carries BMW’s 4 year/50,000 mile “Full Maintenance Program,” which includes Roadside Assistance. When we first started driving this X1, the steering effort required to turn the wheel seemed high, so we stopped by our local dealer, Sonnen BMW in San Rafael, for a check. Without hesitation, the service advisor took the X1 for a turn around the lot, then asked his technician for a drive and opinion. The technician checked the front tire pressures, drove the X1 and pronounced it AOK. He said that steering on the AWD model is slightly heavier than that of the FWD version because AWD still uses a hydraulic pump versus the FWD’s electric power steering. After a day or so, I became used to the high effort steering, but after a week, I was still impressed with the gracious and helpful treatment I received at the hands of Sonnen BMW.

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter in line 4, 16 valve, twin turbocharged, direct injection
  • Horsepower: 240 hp
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/33 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,245
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i

Monday July 22nd, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Aero-Chisel Looks, Practical Interior Space, Vernier Handling
Gripes: Cheesy Seatback Pockets, Manual Steering Wheel Adjust

Just by accident, we found our 2013 X3 parked next to a first edition X3. Although both vehicles go by the same name and remain identically sized, the 2013’s wealth of ingenious stylistic changes make it look like a completely different SUV. In place of the first generation’s unappealing matte black front and rear fascia panels, the latest offering’s sculpted and chromed sheet metal looks like a scythe compared to a butter knife. BMW offers the latest flame surfaced X3 in 2 flavors, both all-wheel-drive (or “xDrive” in BMW-speak). The entry level offering which we drove is powered by a 4 cylinder twin turbo motor that displaces 2.0 liters and makes 240hp. This 28i version retails for $38,500, but you’ll have no problem optioning it to well over $50,000. Our test X3, with several expensive option packages, chimed in at $54,030. Stepping up to a 35i model ups the base price to $43,600 but gives you a traditional BMW straight six cylinder turbo motor which makes 300hp. The 28i returns the best fuel mileage (21 MPG City/28 MPG Highway) compared to 19/26 for the 35i.

In all phases of daily driving, the 28i’s engine offers responsive, strong acceleration when needed. The standard 8-speed automatic gearbox makes maximum use of the engine’s peaky torque curve to provide gratifying thrust. You can let a gearbox downshift take care of your need for speed by simply flooring the accelerator, or oversee the operation yourself by slotting the transmission into manual mode and bumping the stubby stick forward for downshifts and rearward for upshifts. Despite the fact that our X3 was equipped with a $3,000 “M Sport Package,” BMW did not include steering wheel paddles for transmission control. But the package did supply such niceties as Dynamic Damper Control, 19 inch double-spoked “M” alloy rims (complete with 245/45R19 Run-Flat LS2 Goodyear Eagles), high gloss roof rails, sports seats, Siena wood trim, external aerodynamic refinements, and a charcoal headliner.

The M Package is definitely worth the extra money because the front seats it provides are sublime. In top formula car race circles like F1 and Indycar, teams custom fit seats to drivers by filling seat mold bladders while drivers sit immobile until the liquid hardens around them. The X3’s sports seats fit like F1/Indycar custom pours, enveloping your tail, thighs and butt like an invisible sandbox. The M Sport’s “Fineline Siena” wood trim, which graces upper front door panels, center console and right dash, is exquisitely grained and lovely to behold. The cockpit controls are workmanlike and understated, with a simple, fat-rimmed, M-spoked leather steering wheel affording ample control over the sensitive feedback of the Servotronic vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering. Another nice touch is the M-branded aluminum dead pedal which adds a note of distinction to the driver’s side footwell.

BMW has instituted Stop/Start technology on the X3 model line, and while it may gain some incremental fuel saving, it’s not worth the price you must pay in disconcertion and inconvenience at every traffic light. That’s because when the system automatically kills the engine after a brief period of immobility, the X3 shudders into silence, only to replay the twitch when the engine refires as you drive off. You can eliminate this entire drama by defeating Stop/Start via a tiny button next to the ignition switch, but this in itself is annoying since you have to do this every time you restart the BMW. It’s also too easy to confuse the ignition switch button with that of the S/S defeat button. Do that at a traffic light and you’ll instantly incite a chorus of horn honkers.

The M Sport version of the X3 is the closest SUV you’ll find to a sportscar. It’s level of grip, instant responsiveness to steering input, flat cornering stance, and shock absorber override function, make it just the ticket for 3 Series wannabees who needs more room for stuff. The X3 offers a whopping 56.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded flat. While it may look like an SUV, this BMW has the soul of a sports car.

2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i

  • Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC, 16 valve, twin turbocharged Inline 4
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $54,095
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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2013 BMW 335i Sedan Review

Monday April 15th, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Delicious M Sport Line, Best Seats, Planted Handling
Gripes: Auto Start/Stop Perplexing

You can just about buy a brand new Kia Rio for the $11,700 worth of “Options and Additional Charges” that bump the base price of this BMW 335i from $43,150 to $57,595. Ka-Ching starts ringing with the M Sport Line ($3,200), the Cold Weather Package ($950), the Driver Assistance Package ($1,900) and the Technology Package ($3,100). What exactly do you get when you order options that add more than 20 percent to the car’s base price? A delicious looking sedan that is so packed with technology that your lease will expire before you discover all of its myriad secrets.

BMW now relies exclusively on turbocharging to produce exceptional horsepower plus excellent fuel economy. The 335i’s inline 6 cylinder, twin turbocharged engine displaces just 3.0 liters, but produces 300hp while returning 26 MPG in combined city/freeway driving. The direct injection engine benefits from stepless variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust cams to extract every last molecule of energy from the 91 octane fuel BMW recommends for this motor. When you jump on the accelerator to complete a pass or merge with freeway traffic, the 335i instantly kicks down a gear or two (it has 8 of them), then surges seamlessly ahead.

All 335 sedans feature a console-mounted “Driving Dynamics Control” which allows you to select your desired performance level from these options: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. In Eco Pro, the sedan feels somewhat lethargic, with relaxed steering feedback matching a slow reacting throttle. In Comfort, the sedan feels reasonably spry, but when you flip to Sport or Sport Plus, this Bimmer is really ready to boogie. In these Sport modes, the steering becomes heavier but more informative, while throttle response zings into a hyper responsive algorithm that makes you want to lace your driving shoes tighter.

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2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe Review

Wednesday October 10th, 2012 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious, Glassy, Classy
Gripes: Pricey, Fixed Moonroof

Five years have elapsed since BMW introduced their stunning 4-door “CL” coupe study at the Shanghai auto show in 2007. The hallmarks of that China show design by Adrian van Hooydonk, which paid tribute to BMW’s treasured CL coupes of the Seventies, were its expansive glass area, six foot width, and exceptionally large wheels and tires. All of those design features have found their way into the production version, the 2013 640i Gran Coupe. The roofline of the new coupe resembles the back of a turtle, with vast front and rear window glass sloping away from a domed roof that itself contains a huge pane of tinted glass. Just like its show car CL predecessor, the Gran Coupe is more than six feet wide excluding the outside mirrors. And completing the key points of van Hooydonk’s original vision, 20 inch tall wheels with super skinny sidewall Dunlop tires define the exaggerated wheel well arches.

From a historical standpoint, the term coupe defines a 2-door car with 2 + 2 seating. BMW has redefined the classic coupe concept by adding an extra pair of rear doors to facilitate rear seat usage. Thanks to the car’s six foot width, there’s even room and belts for a baby size fifth passenger in the center of the rear seat. Indeed, there’s nothing + 2 about the rear seat accommodations. The 640 GC offers posh seating for 4, with possible occupancy by 5. Call it a 4+ 1 coupe. But make no mistake, the 640, despite its stealthy profile and attractive silhouette, is a sizeable vehicle. It’s 197.2 inch length is just 2 inches short of a 7 Series limo, and 4 inches longer than a 5 Series sedan.

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2012 BMW 335i Review

Saturday July 21st, 2012 at 11:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: 306hp, 8-speed Tranny, Turbine Wheels
Against: Stop/Start Nonsense, Neolithic Dash Slab

BMW has just introduced its latest interpretation of the 3 Series sedan. It’s still fast, nimble, handsome and expensive. You can order the base model 328i (base price: $35,795) which depends on a 4 cylinder turbo to make 240hp, or you can up the ante to the 306hp, 6 cylinder twin turbo 335i which we tested (Base price: $42,400). Let’s start with fast. The silky six makes peak torque of 295 lb.-ft from just off idle (1,200rpm) all the to 5,000rpm. Its Steptronic automatic transmission offers 8 gears to harness that endless torque, meaning that the 335i rockets you from 0 to 60mph in under 5 seconds, and tops out at an electronically controlled 155mph. If serious squirt is high on your purchase list, the new 335i fits the bill and then some.

Even though BMW has increased the wheelbase of the 3 Series by 1.9 inches, this sedan retains its close-coupled feel and quick reflexes. Curb weight of 3,500 pounds and an overall length of 182.5 inches indicate that BMW has worked hard to provide more interior space without resorting to increases in overall weight or size. The engine block, for example, is cast in aluminum. As a result, when you crank the wheel of the 335i into a sharp bend, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness and balance of the chassis, steering and motor. Without question, the latest 3 is still one of the world’s best sports sedans.

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2012 BMW 650i Coupe Review

Monday July 16th, 2012 at 3:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Do-It-All Nature, Space, Grace, Pace
Against: Exterior Rear View Mirrors Too Small

If you need a sportscar and a high performance sedan, look no further than Bimmer’s 650i. Granted, it’s a tad pricey at $101,675. But if you perceive it as 2 cars in 1, you’re on the right reasoning track. If you’re willing to alot $50,000 for each purpose the 650i fulfills, then you’ve saved yourself from buying an extra car. Let’s examine this genteel beast from the sportscar perspective first. Are 400hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque enough to slake your thirst for V8 twin turbo power? They should be, considering the 650i will turn 107mph in 13.4 seconds through the quarter mile, and post a 0-60mph time of 5.1 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 150mph. If that isn’t serious sportscar territory, than nothing is.

But what about the handling? In a word, superb. BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control (DDC) system, which is standard on this car, allows you to dial up just the right amount of steering feedback, suspension control, throttle response and traction control permissiveness you need when pushing the performance envelope. An easily accessible button on the standard “Fine Line Oak Wood” center console allows you to bump the default DDC setting from Comfort to Performance or Performance+. If you hold the button down for 10 seconds in the Performance+ setting, you disable Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), putting your enthusiasm and talent in control of the situation. You’ll want to be exceptionally careful in this DSC-deleted Performance+ mode, because many of the safety net override systems are disabled, making it possible to lose control of this heavy and powerful vehicle if you don’t know what you’re doing.

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2012 BMW 328i Sedan Luxury Line Review

Monday May 14th, 2012 at 4:55 PM
Posted by: aquadog


The 328i has controversial styling because of the pointy front end. Get beyond that though and you will discover a car with modern priorities. This car delivers performance and fuel economy like no car before it has ever delivered.  0-60 is under 6 seconds and fuel economy is rated at 36 mpg on the highway.  The real story for us though is we were getting mileage figures of 40 and 45 mpgs on the highway.  Often, EPA highway ratings are a fantasy. On the 328i, the EPA mileage figures are more like a worst case scenario.

BMW 328i Sedan Specs:

  • Engine: 2.0-liter, Inline 4 Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 240hp @ 5000 rpm
  • Torque: 260 lb.-ft @ 1250 rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 33  mpg hwy
  • MSRP: Starting at $34,900

YouTube Preview ImageCar Tech: 2012 BMW 328i. This video is brought to you by CNET

YouTube Preview Image2012 BMW 328i. This video is brought to you by Driven Car Reviews

Luxury Line Features:

  • 18” Luxury multi-spoke wheel design
  • Chrome decorative accents in front air dam
  • Chrome kidney grille bars
  • Chrome window surround
  • Chrome strip above front air dam and rear loading edge
  • Chrome exhaust pipe trim
  • BMW Luxury entry doorsills
  • Sport leather steering wheel
  • Leather upholstery with exclusive stitching
  • Choice of two fine wood interior trims with chrome lower accent
  • Lower dashboard in exclusive brown leather color (in combination with the Saddle Brown Dakota leather upholstery)
  • Chrome rings around climate and radio control panel buttons
  • Center console fringe in chrome
  • Black signature key fob with chrome Luxury accent
  • $2,100

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2012 BMW X6 and X5 xDrive 35i Review

Monday March 26th, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Stand Alone Looks, Opulent Front Cabin
Against: Bus-Like Steering,  Wheel Position

In contrast to their family-sized SUV, the X5, BMW considers the X6 to be a “personal” sports ute, meaning it’s designed primarily for two, with a nod to accommodating four in a pinch. You can thank the X6’ severely sloping roofline for the reduction in passenger (and cargo) carrying capacity. That fastback roof is not the only feature that differentiates the X6 from the X5. The X6 also sells for a substantially higher premium than its more utilitarian stablemate. Base price for the X6 we tested is $58,900, versus $48,095 for a comparable 3.0 liter turbocharged X5.

Of course, $58,095 is just the starting point for the X6, because you’ll want to personalize your ride with a host of pricey options. Ours had the following extras appended to its bottom line: Cold Weather Package for $750, Premium Package (Rear View Camera, Keyless Entry, 4-Zone Climate Control, Navigation) for $3,500, Premium Sound Package for $1,500, Sport Package (Adaptive Drive, 19 inch Alloys) for $4,600, Multi-Contour Seats for $950, and Technology Package (Auto Hi-Beams, Side View Camera and Head-Up Display) for $1,700. Throw in a few less consequential extras like a Space Saver Spare ($150) and Running Boards ($300) and you’vegot yourself a $73,825 vehicle.

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2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i Review

Tuesday March 20th, 2012 at 2:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Handling Acumen, Spacious Cockpit, Huge Silent Sunroof
Against: Jerky Throttle Tip-in

The North Main exit from Southbound I-680 in Walnut Creek is a prodigious feat of engineering. It’s a perfectly banked, 2 lane wide off ramp that reverses direction 180 degrees, lasts nearly a quarter of a mile, and tests handling like no other piece of road in the Bay Area. Late one night, in light traffic, I tossed BMW’s turbocharged, all-wheel-drive X3 into the endless North Main sweeper, not expecting a whole lot of grip from either the top heavy SUV, or its all-season Goodyear tires.

Entering the turn, I could see a pair of single headlights closing rapidly in my mirror. But by the time I reached North Main, there was no one in sight behind me. The X3 had danced through the sweeper with agility equal to BMW’s best sports sedan, the M3. While stopped at the next traffic light on North Main, those lights that vanished on the off ramp reappeared next to me. The driver of a Porsche Boxster Spyder was looking at my X3 with open-mouthed astonishment. His face said it all: how could your clunky-looking SUV put my precious Porsche to shame? And worse yet, do so in a never-ending corner of all places!

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2011 BMW 1 Series M Review

Wednesday October 19th, 2011 at 3:1010 PM
Posted by: mtan

2011 BMW 1-Series M
By Ming Tan


  • M heritage
  • Powerful and smooth revving 3.0 liter Twinpower Turbo inline 6
  • Unmistakable styling with an aggressive edge


  • Rubbery shifter diminishes that precise feel of the car
  • Minor exhaust drone
  • Some minor body aesthetic details

I love BMW M cars. I’ve fancied all the generations of M3’s over the years, of course starting with the E30 back in the late 80’s. I love the uniqueness that these special cars bring to the table. I love the double take that I often have to give to these cars when they drive by. And admittedly, I love the hype that builds every time a new M car is due to be released. It’s always interesting to experience the launching of a new BMW. But for car enthusiasts, we always wait to see when the M version will be coming.

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